Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.

Circumstances Where New Jersey Alimony Payments End

Alimony is sometimes one of the most contentious issues surrounding divorce. Determining the settlement amount, who is going to be paying alimony, and so on. After undergoing all of that you may be wondering, are there any circumstances where New Jersey alimony payments end? Or are they more fixed? An experienced alimony attorney may be able to answer that question and other questions you have about spousal support. Consult a knowledgeable lawyer that can help you.

Death of the Payor

One of the circumstances where New Jersey alimony payments end is if the recipient spouse dies or if the payor spouse dies and has no arrears. If that payor spouse has arrears, their estate will be ordered to pay those arrears.

If the spouse receiving the money remarries or cohabitates, their alimony payments will terminate. The Cohabitation Law just changed and has defined it more broadly. Prior to 2014, cohabitation was living with another person who is providing to that household, and there had to be incredible proof that they lived there full time and essentially a member of the household.

Cohabitation With Another Person

Now,  another one of the circumstances where New Jersey alimony payments can be suspended or terminated if that recipient spouse cohabitates with another person. Cohabitation is defined as a mutually-supportive, intimate, personal relationship in which the couple has undertaken duties and privileges which are commonly associated with that marriage or civil union, but it does not necessarily mean that they have to maintain a single common household.

One of the factors that the court does consider is if the parties have intertwined their finances, i.e., joint bank accounts, they own real estate together, they acquired debt together, those are considerations for cohabitation.

Determining Cohabitation

If they share joint responsibility for living expenses, that is an indication of cohabitation. If they have a recognized relationship within social and family circles, e.g., posting pictures of their relationship on Facebook and attending family events, those are all indications of cohabitation. A situation where what an individual posts on Facebook and social media can come back to bite them if they are receiving alimony.

What Constitutes Cohabitation?

What people commonly think about cohabitation is that they live together, the frequency of contact, the duration of the relationship or other indicia of a mutually-supportive, intimate, personal relationship. That party does not have to live with their new partner full time, but if there is regular contact, i.e., if they are sleeping over each other's houses multiple times; if they are in a long-term relationship; and basically any proof that they are mutually supportive indicates cohabitation.

If they share household chores, that is cohabitation. If the recipient spouse has received some sort of support or some sort of promise of support from another person, like alimony, that is another indication of cohabitation; and any other relevant evidence.

Changing Definitions of Cohabitation

A court may not find an absence of cohabitation solely on the fact that the couple did not live together full time. That was the previous law; if they do not live together full time (100% of the time), then it is not cohabitation. Now, it is much broader and it varies with any cohabitation; any indicia of a mutually-supportive, intimate, personal relationship and multiple factors that are covered. This may show cohabitation and the need for alimony is not there.

Permanent Alimony

The circumstances where New Jersey alimony payments end are now more common, with the end of permanent and durational alimony. Now that the law has changed, there is no durational alimony or permanent alimony anymore. It is now called open durational alimony.

There is always that expectation that the alimony obligation is going to terminate at the time that that payor spouse does retire, but longer term marriages indicate that alimony should be paid for a longer period of time, just because the statute defines that any marriage less than 20 years cannot exceed 20 years. But in terms of over 20 years, it is that open durational alimony.If an individual wants to know more about open durational alimony and spousal support in New Jersey, they should consult a lawyer that could work towards a positive outcome for them.